Self Care is A Gift You Give Everyone

Could this be the Year of Radical Self Care?

When I say self-care I’m not referring to booking that annual physical, getting regular massages or even eating a cleaner diet, though all of those are good things.

I’m talking about a systemic change to your operating system. That’s what makes it radical.

Radical  |ˈradikəl|
adjective:
1. relating to or affecting the fundamental nature of something.
2. thorough and intended to be completely curative.
3. characterized by departure from tradition.

Radical self care would be first of all getting to know your own wants and needs. Feel into what you might want and explore through trial and error what works for you and what doesn’t. This will take time, and curiosity and vulnerability. That may seem like a tall order but I can assure you the rewards to yourself and others will be exponential. (Not at first, but eventually)

Few of us were taught how to really care for ourselves. We know how to get along, be successful in the world, and we have ideas about sleep and diet and exercise. But did anyone teach you how to truly care for your body and soul?

  • Do you know how to hear the soft voice inside guiding you to your heart’s deepest desire?
  • Can you feel the gentle prodding of your body, directing your actions to get you there?
  • Can you intuit in each moment how to move, eat, drink, and be still in ways that heal your life and the planet?

Living this way probably sounds selfish, even narcissistic, but you’ll find if you explore it you’ll be kinder, more compassionate and generous with the world.

Here’s why:

I must have seen those airplane videos on how to act in an emergency over 100 times, and every time I’ve thought the same thing.

  1. Nobody’s going to be that calm if the plane’s really going down.
  2. It goes against everything in my nature to put on my own oxygen mask before putting in on someone in need.

I lived most of my life putting oxygen masks on everyone around me. I was good at it. I got a lot of satisfaction from it. I formed a whole sense of value from being of service. And then I ran out of oxygen. I had to learn a whole new way to be in the world. Those airplane videos were right. Without putting our masks on first we can’t really take care of anyone else. At least not for long.

My case is pretty extreme, so perhaps you can’t relate to it. But I’ll bet there are ways you’re taking care of others before considering your own needs ~ to be a good parent, friend, employee, boss, spouse, sister…. but putting others needs first habitually not only hurts you, it hurts those who love you.

When you don’t take care of your own needs, you’ll unconsciously look to others to take care of you. We all have needs that must be met. You’ll look to fulfill them in ways that you may not even see happening. When your needs and desires go unmet for too long, you can become resentful, jealous, short tempered. When you are hard on yourself you are hard on others.

You can’t give others what you don’t have. So begin by getting to know what it is you really want and need, not in the grand scheme of life, but in each moment as you live it. That will require listening to your body, creating enough quiet for that voice inside you to be heard, clearing some space to do things you’ve been putting off in – that includes space to do nothing. You may find you need more time alone, movement, play, laughs, challenges, rest, sunshine, water, sex, deep conversations, fat in your diet…. you’re unique and so are your needs.

It’s taken me years to discover what I truly want and need. It’s been a radical shift in my way of being and I continue to evolve and learn. I’ve had to re-educate people who I had previously trained to expect more of me than I could actually give. You may have to do the same thing. This may help.

Over the holidays I’m staying with a friend to help her recover from surgery. I have one role here ~ Take Care of Her. It would be easy to fall into old patterns and knock myself out caring for someone who really needs it. Instead, it’s a joy. I feel like I’m on a retreat, because I’m taking care of myself by getting lots of sleep, spending time alone, visiting with my husband, meditating, doing yoga, writing, moving and taking naps. When it’s time to care for her it comes from a very full place. It’s a joy to go to the market, make her meals, clean up and take her to doctor’s visits. My oxygen mask is on and I’m taking deep breaths from it. So I have lots to give.

 Let This be Your Year of Radical Self Care.